France had the honour of staging the seventh European Championship and they worked wonders both on and off the pitch to help make this the greatest yet.
World Cup winners Italy were the most significant absentees from the finals after a dreadful qualifying bid.
And a qualification defeat by Denmark at Wembley meant England spent the summer of 1984 touring South America.
Although John Barnes restored some pride with a classic goal in a 2-0 defeat of Brazil in Rio, over in France it would have been harder to imagine a better tournament taking place even if the Brazilians had been there at their most sublime.
Playing at home, World Cup semi-finalists France were the favourites and progressed from Group One as narrow victories over Denmark and Yugoslavia came either side of a 5-0 thrashing of Belgium.
Denmark also progressed, largely thanks to a win by the same margin against Yugoslavia.
The real shock came in Group B, with West Germany failing to make the semi-finals.
Even though they were held to a draw by Portugal, West Germany were still tipped to go through but a last-minute header by Antonio Maceda in their final group showdown with Spain sent the holders tumbling out.
German players and fans alike were not used to this sort of disappointment and it came as a devastating blow.
Spain, who also missed a penalty in that match, took their place in the last four, with Portugal making up the quartet.
ENGLAND IN EUROPE: 1984
Failed to qualify
Qualifying Group 3:
Denmark 2-2 Eng, Greece 0-3 Eng,
Eng 9-0 Luxembourg,
Eng 0-0 Greece,
Eng 2-0 Hungary,
Eng 0-1 Denmark,
Hungary 0-3 Eng,
Luxembourg 0-4 Eng
The unfancied Portuguese team were key contributors to one of the greatest matches in European football history when they took on France in the semis and looked set to conquer them.
France led for most of the match but Rui Jordao first equalised, and then put Portugal ahead at 2-1 in extra-time.
The French, who had missed numerous chances, restored parity with Jean-Francois Domergue's second goal of the match before French skipper/hero/genius Michel Platini fired in a winner just one minute away from penalties.
A shoot-out was unavoidable in the second semi-final and it was Spain who made Denmark pay the penalty in another thrilling encounter.
Reaching the final was a great achievement for Spain considering their poor record at major tournaments - all the more so given the remarkable way they reached the European Championship in 1984.
They needed to beat Malta by an incredible 11 goals in their final qualifier - and did it, winning 12-1.
France were, of course, a different proposition, but Spain more than held their own in the showpiece match at the Parc des Princes until Platini opened the scoring with a weak free-kick that Luis Arconada really should have saved.
Frenchman Yvon Le Roux was sent off but Spain still somehow seemed to be fighting a losing battle and Bruno Bellone finished them off with a chipped second goal that secured France a richly deserved first international trophy.
1984 European Championship results (Held in France)
Group 1: France 1-0 Denmark, Belgium 2-0 Yugoslavia,
France 5-0 Belgium, Denmark 5-0 Yugoslavia,
France 3-2 Yugoslavia, Denmark 3-2 Belgium
Group 2: Romania 1-1 Spain, Portugal 0-0 W Germany,
W Germany 2-1 Romania, Portugal 1-1 Spain,
Portugal 1-0 Romania, Spain 1-0 W Germany
France 3-2 Portugal (AET)
Spain 1-1 Denmark
(AET - Spain won 5-4 on penalties)
France 2-0 Spain